Debbie Ford with instructor Kennedy dancing Country Western.

Newcomer Wedlyne Pluviose with instructor Kennedy.

Dancing continues on Saturday with the open category. For this division, teachers and dancers are not limited to syllabus material. Many let loose on the floor, whether executing well rehearsed choreography or adding their own special touch to the moves.

Recognizing the desire for an environment more suited for social dancing, Arthur Murray now includes club-style events. Rather than looking for perfect footwork and frame, adjudicators want to see a strong connection between the dancers – as if the two of them just met and spontaneously danced!

Debbie Ford, Jim’s wife, danced in the country division with her instructor, Kennedy. She called it taking a crazy risk. “My goal was to stay calm (sort of!), do MY best, and not get upset if (WHEN!) I messed up a pattern. I am pleased to announce I accomplished my goal as best if possible for me.” Debbie and Kennedy won second place out of fourteen other couples.

The team wins the Spirit Award & Top Studio.

The evening ended with a red carpet banquet followed by the professional competition. Newcomer Wedlyne Pluviose says she had never seen so many professionals in one place. “I expected to get a weekend of dancing – but I got so much more! To see the different levels, the work that goes into competing, the kicking, the flipping – it made me want to compete more and do a solo next time!”

Hillsborough instructors Keenan and Laura won their first Arthur Murray event as Future Champions in rhythm. From Cranford, Valerie and Lance debuted in the professional smooth division, along with Kennedy and Colleen, and Chris and Kate who made it to the semifinal.

Cranford took home two team awards: 2nd place Top Studio and the coveted Spirit Award. First-timer Eric Adams won his category as Top Newcomer; Jerry and Jennifer Cerulli also won their respective Top Associate Bronze awards.